'One-in-a-million' mum's fight for lifesaving surgery sparks £50,000 fundraising appeal
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An urgent appeal has been launched by a Highland woman to help her "one in a million mum" – who needs a lifesaving transplant to survive.
Natalja Lapina, who has lived in Inverness for more than 20 years, has launched a GoFundMe appeal to raise £50,000 to help towards the costs associated with a vital liver transplant for her mother, Tamara Bestene (55).
Her mum, who lives in Latvia, is a much-loved mother, foster mum and grandmother.
But now Tamara, who Natalja says has "always been the pillar of strength in our lives", is facing an uncertain future after it emerged she will need a liver transplant to survive a "critical health challenge" following a diagnosis of cirrhosis.
"Tamara has dealt with a silent battle for seven months keeping her diagnosis to herself to protect our family. On October 25, she was induced into a coma that the doctors did not expect her to wake from, and our father had no other choice than to contact her adult children in the UK to inform us of this news.
"The medical team have advised that a liver transplant is the best and possibly only solution to give her a fighting chance at a healthy life.
"Whilst we have been exploring all available options, the financial burden of such a procedure is substantial. The cost of a liver transplant, including preoperative evaluations, surgery and post-operative care is a significant challenge to our family.
"We are reaching out to our community, friends and anyone willing to help towards the cost of our mum’s lifesaving transplant and hospital expenses.
"Your support, whether through donations, spreading awareness, or keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, means the world."
The £50,000 she hopes to raise will help to cover medical bills, post-transplant medication, Tamara's ongoing medical care, and hospital lodging.
It's a desperate time for Natalja's much-loved mum and her family overseas. Natalja added: "Living far away, I, a daughter from Inverness and a son from Nottinghamshire, do everything to involve the surrounding people much more. We believe that after the donor operation we will have wonderful days together. Our mum is only 55 years old and it’s too early to say goodbye.
"We are determined not to lose hope and to fight for every penny, so that the necessary amount for treatment is collected faster.
"For now, we can visit our dear mother in the hospital as often as possible, making her feel stronger while we wait, in strong prayers every day and asking for help from the people around us, the doctors will take care of the rest. We believe we will succeed."
Tamara's plight is a cruel blow for her family, who include three foster children – aged 15, 14 and 10 – who have been part of the family for more than seven years.
"Our mum has always helped others in times of need, going an extra mile to make a difference," added Natalja. "Our mum is the best mum that we could have. Tamara is not just our mum; however, she fosters young children, raising them as her own and always been the saviour of our family and still is, even with her ongoing treatments. A one-in-a-million mum. We will continue to fight.
"Every bit of assistance brings us one step closer to giving mum the chance she deserves to see brighter days ahead."
To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit www.gofundme.com/f/liver-transplant-for-tamara-bestene.
At the time of writing Natalja had raised more than £3100 towards the £50,000 target.
And she is extremely grateful to those who have already dug deep to help raise funds.
"We would like to thank everyone who has already started donating and sharing information around the world using social media. Our donations are growing every hour, so every pound is very important."